Spending More Time Analyzing Balances and Reviewing Results

Founded in 1929, the JR Simplot Company grew from a one-man farming operation into a food and agribusiness empire with operations in the United States, China, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. The company employs 10,000 people and has revenues of over $6 billion.

The Challenge

A privately held company involved in a vast array of agricultural products and research initiatives, Simplot still struggled with a highly tedious, Excel-based financial close process. Various divisions of the global company relied on unique accounting practices, severely hampering big-picture visibility. The use of different accounting tools also complicated matters. According to Glenda Viste, senior director of finance optimization initiatives at Simplot, “Our entrepreneurial values created a lot of non-standard and decentralized accounting practices. Over the years, we had moved to a more consolidated model, but many accounting practices still varied by business unit.”

Simplot’s strong employee retention rate, while a boon for the company overall, also threatened business continuity. With so many different accounting processes and tools, the loss of even one employee meant also losing significant institutionalized knowledge. “Our employee longevity is very long and when transitions happen, there is simply too much information lost,” said Viste. “We knew we had to find a solution that efficiently tracked accounting purposes, procedures, documentation, and historical records.”


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Business Impact

Gained real-time visibility, eliminated redundancies, ensured consistency of process through employee transitions, significantly improved completion and quality ratings.

More Growth in the Playbook

In step with Under Armour’s mission of relentlessly pursuing innovation, over the last two years the company has acquired several new mobile app businesses and aptly named this market “Connected Fitness.” For Boyle, these businesses — MapMyFitness (acquired in December 2013), MyFitnessPal and Endomondo (brought on in the first quarter of 2015), and Under Armour’s own app, UA Record — represent not only a new reportable segment, but also three new company codes that operate on completely different non-SAP ERP systems and need to be incorporated into the company’s monthly close process. Using BlackLine, the company has been able to gain visibility into account balances and important information regarding the newly acquired entities. “BlackLine has been really useful in terms of gaining quick visibility into the ending balances in each of the accounts, giving our leadership a chance to review transactional details and key account balances without having full integration of those other ERP systems,” says Boyle. “That will continue to evolve as we go forward.”

The Results

Goals: Adopt a less manual and more scalable approach to monthly account reconciliations and book closing processes, as well as journal-entry retention, support, and review

Strategy: Implemented a scalable, automated, cloud-based solution for account reconciliations, journal entry, and financial tasks that integrates with SAP ERP and delivers push-button reporting and real-time access to data

Outcome: Shaved days of work off the desks of Under Armour’s accounting employees, who are now able to spend more of their time analyzing balances, reviewing results, and ensuring relevance and accuracy, rather than monitoring completeness and executing administrative tasks